New Jersey Ordered to Strengthen Affordable Housing Rules

New Jersey is not doing enough to foster affordable housing in every community, the state Supreme Court said Thursday in a major decision that gives the Christie administration five months to draft new housing rules.
September 27, 2013

New Jersey is not doing enough to foster affordable housing in every community, the state Supreme Court said Thursday in a major decision that gives the Christie administration five months to draft new housing rules.

The 3-2 ruling is a victory for advocates of affordable housing,  who have long argued the state's latest affordable-housing rules made it too easy for towns, including many in North Jersey, to exclude low- and moderate-income residents through zoning policies.

Though the rules at issue before the court had their roots in the administration of former Gov. Jon Corzine, Governor Christie, a Republican, has been an outspoken critic of the state's affordable-housing policies which were drafted before he took office, in response to a series of court decisions referred to generally as the Mount Laurel doctrine after the town outside Philadelphia  where zoning rules were initially challenged decades ago. The governor has called those policies heavy-handed.

The high court previously ruled against Christie's attempt to disband the agency that governs affordable-housing policy in New Jersey, and he  has pointed to its rulings in his frequent calls to reshape the makeup of the court itself — something he and the Democrats who control the state Legislature have been fighting over for months and remain locked in an angry stalemate.

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